Xavi refused to blame referee Antonio Mateu Laos after Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Espanyol, but admitted that the audacious Catalan derby was “completely out of control”.
Blaugrana were forced to settle for a point on their return to action after the World Cup, despite a dominant performance at Camp Nou, where a Joselu penalty canceled out a Marcos Alonso header.
The competition descended into chaos as Laos, who hosted Argentina’s heated World Cup quarter-final match against the Netherlands this month, dealt a lot of cards during the nasty final exchanges.
Jordi Alba was sacked for two free fouls during his 300th La Liga appearance for Barça, Vinicius Sousa after, and Leandro Cabrera was lucky enough to stay on the pitch, apparently putting pressure on Robert Lewandowski.
But while Xavi, who was booked for by Laos, was disappointed by the referee’s performance, the head coach insisted that Barça had only themselves to blame for failing to convert their three-point lead.
21 – FC Barcelona failed to win a match after making 20+ shots in La Liga 2022/23 (21) for the second time since against Rayo Vallecano last August (21). Jam. pic.twitter.com/Kn7tt20Xfr
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 31, 2022
“Matheu is the referee who controls the matches and today he ran away from him,” Marca quoted him as saying. “Today the match is completely out of control.
“He is a referee who gives you the feeling that he dominates and controls the game. But today it wasn’t like that. I don’t blame him for anything. The tie is our fault. I must seek my own, what I can control.
“I can’t control the referee. I have said this many times. The referee must come out and say what he saw and what the players told him. Geordie told me he didn’t tell him anything.
“We created moments. From the 30th minute, we have decreased intensity. Maybe we didn’t attack so well. I feel like we should have won well. Penalties are a bad move for us.
“We are angry with ourselves. There are moments in football when you are better but you don’t win. The team created a lot of danger in corners. It’s unfortunate and we’re upset.”
Barca are level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table but have a better goal difference.